Posted on March 24, 2013 at 5:35 pm


Bessie Coleman (1896-1926) was the first African American woman to earn an aviator’s license.  Unable to find anyone willing to train a black woman to fly in the US, Bessie learned French so that she could learn to fly in France.  She was the first American of any race or gender to earn an international pilot’s license.  

Bessie died at age 34 during a test flight for an exhibition in Jacksonville, Florida.

Bessie is profiled in a Smithsonian Channel documentary entitled Black Wings, which is airing this month.  An excerpt from the documentary can be seen here.  If you are interested in black female pilots, check out the novel Flygirl.

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